The previous X-Men movies showed the dark, ruthless and revengeful character of Magneto, the powerful mutant who can manipulate magnetism and is considered as the arch nemesis not only of Professor X but the entire X-Men team.
But before he became Magneto, he is Erick Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), who is also the leader of the Brotherhood of Mutants and quite possibly the most powerful mutant on the planet in the upcoming X-Men movie prequel “X-Men: First Class.”
The Erik of “X-Men: First Class” is a very different, and arguably a more dangerous proposition – a man tortured by the ravages of his past, consumed by pain and a thirst for vengeance and a mutant just starting to grapple with the notion that humanity is something to be discarded like a used toy. Exploring then a rich and rewarding friendship with the young Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Erik has finally met an equal.
“There is a very strong bond between Charles and Erik, and a deep respect. But from the beginning, their ideologies are at odds. Erik is very wary of new elements in his life. When Erik and Charles have their parting of the ways, audiences will realize that great things could have happened if they had joined forces forever,” says Michael Fassbender.
“X-Men: First Class” tracks Charles and Erik in their mid-twenties, during the height of the civil rights movement and the Cold War. Both aspects of that period provided an exciting opportunity to explore events that would shape our modern world. One of the Cold War’s flashpoints was the Cuban missile crisis, during which the threat of sudden global extinction loomed large, and which provided the ultimate stakes for mutants to reveal themselves to the world and prevent a conflagration that would engulf the planet. They are essentially cut from the same cloth, and both see mutants as potential subjects of persecution. However, Charles lives to protect those who fear him while Erik lives to destroy them. Each believes his side is right. Neither is willing to compromise.
Erik is also hesitant to join Charles on his mission to save the world from itself. “Erik is quite Machiavellian; he believes the end justifies the means,” Fassbender explains. “He has no regard for humans, and feels they’re inferior.” Erik’s cavalier attitudes about humans stem from his childhood, which couldn’t have been more different from Charles’ life of privilege. Erik had to survive without parents, and as a youngster was forced to endure unimaginable hardships.
Erik is a force of fury and hate, hunting Schmidt and the other Nazi doctors whom he believes turned him into a kind of Frankenstein’s monster. Even as Erik finds his first friend in Charles and is embraced by the other members of the team that will become the X-Men, he never veers from his mission. “Erik is totally driven; if Charles or anyone gets in his way, he’s going to put them down,” says Fassbender.
Director Matthew Vaughn had seen Fassbender’s critically acclaimed performances in “300,” “Hunger,” and “Inglourious Basterds,” and after Fassbender’s impressive audition, cast the actor as Erik. “Michael gives Erik an interesting attitude, and Erik is really straight-up cool,” says the director. “Michael’s work in this film is reminiscent of Sean Connery’s interpretation of James Bond. Erik is like the ultimate spy – imagine Bond…but with superpowers.”
“X-Men: First Class” opens June 2 (Thursday) nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.